The Denver Broncos have an interesting quarterback situation. By interesting, I actually mean frustrating on many levels.
The Broncos had to play without a quarterback on Sunday against the Saints and it did not go well. The team was embarrassed – the league should be embarrassed, too – by the product that was on the field in Week 12.
Broncos starter Drew Lock (and the others in the quarterback room) did not wear his mask for a period of time last week in a meeting. When backup Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19, the rest of the quarterbacks were deemed high-risk close contacts because of not following the rules.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio pulled no punches when talking about how he felt after the game.
“I was disappointed on a couple levels. That our quarterbacks put us in this position and that our quarterbacks put the league in this position. We count on them to be the leaders of the team and leaders of the offense and those guys made a mistake and that is disappointing. Obviously, I haven’t done a good enough job of selling the protocols to them when they are on their own so part of that could fall on me. I thought I was. We have emphasized it a lot and we’re really doing good with COVID up to this point as it relates relative to other teams. There was a failing there and that’s disappointing,” Fangio said.
Fast forward to Monday and the Broncos are now looking for a fifth quarterback. There were rumblings that they could be working out a quarterback and then the news hit who they had signed.
Broncos are signing former Chiefs' QB Kyle Shurmur, who also is the son of Broncos' OC Pat Shurmur, per source. The younger Shurmur needs to pass through COVID protocols, but he is on track to work with his father and the Broncos.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 30, 2020
So, is the signing of Shurmur too little, too late? Let’s take a look.
Who Do You Trust?
Any relationship boils down to communication and trust. Fangio admitted on Sunday night that he must do a better job of communicating with the team how important the mask policy enforced by the NFL is for the team. The COVID-19 protocols are in place for a reason and obviously the quarterbacks did not follow the rules.
The Broncos self-reported this issue and sent the film to the NFL. That sounds great until you realize the team did this because they thought the league would look at the film of the quarterbacks in the room and tell them they were good to go. Instead, Thanksgiving happened and that delayed the process of making a decision from the league. When a decision came down on Saturday, the team had little time to make different plans.
Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur obviously trusts his son. Kyle Shurmur will be available to play (if the team wants him to) against the Chiefs on Sunday night.
Fangio still trusts in Lock. At least that was his public statement on Monday (before the announcement about Shurmur was made).
“I mean, yeah, we’re all disappointed that it happened. It’s not just Drew. I know Drew’s getting the bulk of it because he’s the starter, but there was four of them in there and you’d like for one of them to take the lead and make sure that they’re spaced out far enough. But again, it’s just like with my kids. My kids have done things that have disappointed me during their upbringings, but I still love them and I still love Drew and all the quarterbacks. They made a mistake that we’re ready to move past,” Fangio said.
Always Liked Him
The Broncos have had their eye on Shurmur since he came out of Vanderbilt in 2019. There’s quite a few things to like about the young passer.
Coming out of Vanderbilt, Shurmur showed well on film when the play went as designed. He was a four-year starter in college, setting school records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.
I wrote up a scouting report on Shurmur, knowing the Broncos liked him in 2019, and came away impressed by his football intelligence. He ran a pro-style offense in college and will isolate and eliminate passing options quickly – even before the snap.
Shurmur is patient as a passer and throws with anticipation on timing routes. He is a smart player and makes full-field reads regularly – something that Lock doesn’t yet do consistently.
Like Lock, Shurmur struggles under pressure. Also like Lock, Shurmur can excel on bootlegs and rollouts where he asked to throw on the run. He’s not better than Lock from a physical gifts standpoint, but there’s an interesting skill set to develop if the Broncos want to.
Fangio admitted that all things are on the table when it comes to potential discipline of the four quarterbacks who violated COVID-19 protocols.
“Yeah, we’re going to consider all that and try and see what the league has, if they have anything, planned. And if not, then we’ll take our measures,” Fangio said.
Is the coaching staff so disappointed in Lock that they would send him to the bench? It sounds like that’s not going to happen, but there could be some fines handed out to the quarterbacks by the Broncos.
The Broncos should have had a quarantine quarterback all season long. It should have always been Shurmur. His relationship with his father and the trust you can have in him means the Broncos should have had him on the roster yet away from the building just in case.
Not every team has a quarantine quarterback, but there are a handful of teams who have a player on the 53-man roster that doesn’t come to work. Instead, these quarterbacks work out on their own and join the team in Zoom meetings.
Again, that player should have always been Shurmur.
There’s no need to have Jeff Driskel on this roster. He’s not a great backup option and isn’t the type of veteran that can teach Lock what he needs to learn.
There’s no need to have Blake Bortles on this roster. He is better than Driskel, but that’s not saying much.
Bortles does next to nothing in practice on a daily basis, working as the fourth-string quarterback. If they insist on keeping Bortles, then he should have been kept away from the facility just in case of emergency.
Shurmur is not a starting-caliber quarterback, so he’s not here to push Lock. He is an interesting backup-type of quarterback who could one day push Brett Rypien for the right to hold a clipboard and be one snap away from playing on Sundays. Who knows if he’ll ever see the field for the Broncos. However, I do know that Shurmur should be at least a quarantine quarterback the team can turn to – something they did not have against the Saints in Week 12.
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